The seminar took place during the Norwegian Fisheries Forums annual meeting. Close to 60 participants; mostly scientists and officials from different manage authorities and organizations, gathered for two days at the Litteraturhuset in Oslo. Most of them came from Norway, but countries such as Namibia, Italy and Canada were also represented. The first day was spent mostly on historic reviews and present activities.
More engaged in fewer projects
The development projects in fisheries have dropped from a 4–5 percentage to less than 1 percent of the total cooperation budget in Norway the last decades. Other recent changes are fewer cooperating countries and fewer projects; while the level of involvement in each project is heavily raised. In addition the approach – this includes fisheries projects – is far more holistic than earlier on. The present projects emphasize competence building, education and training and issues such as health and infrastructure.
Future food from aquaculture
In recent years the oceans have been regarded as the final frontier – still to be explored and exploited by man. This growing interest is a worldwide phenomenon showcasing the management challenges: how do we maintain production, health and sustainability of the oceans alongside the increasing pressure on aquatic space and resources. Several of the speakers pointed out that the wild fisheries have reached their limits and that future food supplies have to come from aquaculture. The industry is booming; close to 600 aquaculture species are cultivated worldvide, and Asian countries are by far the largest producers. Even though the aquaculture industry increases year by year, future growth is endangered. The industry is especially vulnerable to diseases and parasites. Many countries lack efficient and robust management systems that can prevent or handle a rapidly spreading disease outbreak.
The importance of education
Norway is in lead in aquaculture science fields such as disease control, fish welfare and sustainability, and during the seminar the idea of an interdisciplinary educational center addressing these matters was launched. Amongst the speakers education and training – given both in the cooperation country and in Norway – were held up as a key success factors in developing projects. Pedro Barras, senior officer at FAO, and senior researcher Hilkka Ndjaula from The University of Namibia told the audience how they had benefited from their Norwegian PhDs – gaining language skills, cultural competence and networks.
People or nature?
Day two of the seminar was devoted to future focus and challenges. The release of the book
“Governance for fisheries and Marine conservation – interactions and co-evolution” immediately fuelled the ongoing discussion; is management and conservation – boiled down to people or nature – two clearly separated streams? Or does management automatically include conservation?
During the panel discussion it was pointed out that in order to produce enough food, we have to take care of nature. But it was also stated that the two streams differ in terms of risk. Are we willing to accept the same level of loss for people (livelihood and economics) as for nature (ecosystems and biodiversity)? No final answer was given. That may after all not be a surprise since the audience was (more or less) equally divided into scientists and managers.